It seems that I’m constantly getting into arguments–arguments that don’t even interest me that much–about whether moral behavior is even possible if people don’t believe in God, or Aristotelian natural ends, or natural rights, or whatever. It’s boring because, well, it’s just plain as an Amish girl that you don’t need to believe in anything special to do the right thing. Nevertheless, I often hear arguments that go something like this:
“If people don’t believe in God, then we won’t be afraid to do terrible things, and won’t have any motivation to do good things, and then there’ll just be CHAOS, which would be horrifying.”
To which I usually sit with a stunned and expectant look on my face. Because the next step seems perfectly obvious to me. If chaos is so terrible, isn’t that reason enough for people to, you know, avoid it. No one much wants to step over corpses on the way to Starbucks, or hose the blood off the sidewalks each morning. We’ll all be much better off if we constrain ourselves in certain ways, and if we exert a little extra effort in certain cases.
So isn’t this all we need to believe: that being good is a net winner over baby-raping anarchy? God, natural rights, or whatever, don’t seem to get you anything extra. The horribleness of immorality does a pretty good job of making morality look pretty good without any special help. So why all the insistence on overdetermination? Insurance?